A review of Steam Whistle Unsigned #18: Freedom or Death, The Darcys & Wildlife

Once every few months a truly special event takes place to showcase our top Toronto musical talent, with one catch: it’s gotta be free. And by free, I don’t mean gratis so struggling students, artists and music lovers can benefit (although $5 is pretty much as close to free as this city sees) but in this case by free I mean unsigned. Independent from a record deal and running free and footloose is the name of the game at Steam Whistle Unsigned. 

The latest edition of SWU brought three stellar budding young bands to the roundhouse stage. I unfortunately couldn’t stay to see the last band perform – Wildlife, although I heard this was the strongest show of the night.

Photo Credit: Cameron McLellan

Freedom or Death was up first. Having seen them perform a slightly disappointing show during Canadian Music Week, I was curious to see if they had been perfecting their trade over the past month and a half. There’s no question their passion runs thick and deep – something I witnessed firsthand through my interview with the man behind the scenes, Fernandez back in March (click here to read my interview). But in my opinion, they needed a little tweaking on their sound. Well, dear readers…they stepped it up big time.

Photo Credit: Cameron McLellan

Frontman Sway is irresistible, and I’m not just talking about his dashing good looks. His stage presence is nothing short of delicious. The highlight of the performance was when they closed with their popular ‘This Crowded Room’ where Sway unashamedly brought two friends on stage to dance and sing along. And it was as if a magic multiplying mirror was placed in front of them, as everyone in the room began to dance and sing along in reflection.

Photo Credit: Cameron McLellan

Up next was indie rockers, The Darcys. I had seen them live once before however by accident at The Silver Dollar Room. By the time they hit the stage, the room was packed right up to the exposed rafters. Something I hadn’t known before was lead singer Jason Crouse’s incredible multi-instrumentalism, frequently playing the guitar and the keyboard simultaneously. And they say men can’t multi-task.

Photo Credit: Cameron McLellan

My favourite moment was when they performed ‘House Built Around Your Voice’. Let’s just say that if you ever have the chance to see them live, grasp it with both hands. These guys play an incredibly tight and polished show and  you’ll be seriously asking the gods as to why they are still unsigned.

All in all it was a fantastic night, with some great friends and a killer soundtrack. It’s a shame I had to miss Wildlife although I guarantee I’ll be at their next Toronto show. And I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the next Steam Whistle Unsigned. I have high hopes for even more luscious independent music showcase in a few months time.

Listen to This Crowded Room by Freedom or Death: 


Listen to House Built Around Your Voice by The Darcys: 


Listen to Stand in the Water by Wildlife: 


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